”They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
Remembrance Day is an annual commemoration observed in Commonwealth nations each 11th November.
Today, I remember my great-grandfather, Brigadier General Simeon de Jesus - one of the twelve Philippine generals active during World War 2. My great-grandfather developed the United States Armed Forces in the Far East MIS (Military Intelligence Service) aka G-2 conducting covert operations in and around Manila during the Japanese occupation.
Operating in secret from outside Manila in Bataan, Brig. Gen. de Jesus remained active in intel and counter-intel with around sixty agents in the city, reporting directly to General Douglas MacArthur via a secret radio transmitter in the back of a movie theatre.
My great-grandfather was arrested in Bataan and incarcerated by the Japanese in 1944. He was executed before the liberation of the Philippines.
Over the years as military documents become declassified, journals and diaries discovered and digitised, and as memoirs get written about wartime experiences, I continue to find snippets - brief mentions - of my Lolo Simeon by people who knew and served under him firsthand. As a child growing up with only legends and tales of his last known actions, the new information I have found over the past eight years has painted the outlines of a picture that, until recently, did not exist for my family. There is a vast ocean’s difference between growing up with the story told by my great-grandmother that her husband went away and disappeared at the beginning of the war, versus finding out that he all along lived and fought a short distance away from her during the three or four years before his death.
That my great-grandmother never knew that he was in such close proximity during the occupation, and that he sacrificed so much of his self - and ultimately his own life - is heartbreaking. But that she likely never lived to learn of his brutal torture and eventual beheading at the hands of the Japanese, is perhaps a mercy.
I do not hate the Japanese, neither do I take lightly the service and sacrifice by all who have fought for their countries and their families - including the wars that rage on today. War is hell.
Wherever you are, and whosever side of any conflict you may be on - at this point please take a moment of silence for those who have fallen in service to their countries.